Local News

Harnett County sixth-grader gets threatening email at school

Posted May 12, 2014

— Cynthia Newby's office is filled with small tokens from her little girl.

The 11-year-old is her pride and joy, so Newby was naturally concerned when the sixth-grader at Overhills Middle School in Spring Lake called her last month crying.

"(She said), 'I am calling to let you know that I am OK, but I am calling to let you know that I received a horrible threat,'" Newby said Monday.

It was a threat of sexual assault.

Newby said it arrived at the girl's email – a Google Mail account issued to students and monitored by Harnett County Schools.

School officials say they investigated the threat and determined the message was sent from another student's email who apparently forgot to log off.

"Whether they were just trying to play a joke or if they truly intended that content, it just feels like I have to jump out and protect her," Newby said.

Newby said more needs to be done to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"Our school and technology staff work diligently to provide students with the necessary technology while still ensuring their safety," Patricia Harmon-Lewis, public relations director for Harnett County Schools, said in an email Monday.

The school has filters to block pornography and graphic images on computers, but there is nothing to block inappropriate text because it would prohibit students from doing research and completing assignments.

"While no content filtering system is perfect, our technology staff has provided protection that goes above and beyond state, federal and Children Internet Protection Act requirements," Harmon-Lewis said.

She added that said parents who don't want their child to have independent access to the Internet at school can inform the school.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Cheree Teasley May 13, 2014
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    I don't think keeping the ability to write bad things would help. If the threat is real, it's better to recieve it and react than to just have someone willing to hurt you not send the threat, right? Being free from acknowledging a threat doesn't make things safer, and I don't know if that's the right approach at all.

  • For the U.S.A. May 13, 2014

    6th grade. Our child has internet access in 3rd grade in Harnett County and the filters that they use to block explicit info and pictures DOES NOT work! I know from experience! This is not a good start of what is going on at school campuses!!

  • hiddentreasurescruecds May 13, 2014

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    That's right! Students should only be issued a slate and chalk.

  • miseem May 13, 2014

    She added that said parents who don't want their child to have independent access to the Internet at school can inform the school.

    I think that the person who sent the message should have independent internet access terminated. Someone using the school email responsibly should not have to forego that privilege because of someone who does not.

  • Itsmyopinion67 May 13, 2014

    Email is destroying our society. One sent message at a time!

  • 678devilish May 13, 2014

    This is an underage child and the law should really look into this matter before this child is harm. Praying that they will do just that.

  • JAT May 13, 2014

    I'm surprised they let them check email at school. And even more surprised that the school didn't call the parent and then let the kid speak with her. But maybe the kid called from a cell phone. And if it happened last month, why is this news now?

  • Robert Richardson May 13, 2014
    user avatar

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    Wait, what??? Seriously??

  • thewayitis May 13, 2014

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    I agree.

  • Cabe Merritt May 13, 2014
    user avatar

    Kids in the 6th grade have no business even using computers at school! How about cracking open a book instead?